Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar in Canggu, Bali, is owned by Australian chef Geoff Lindsay. What makes this chic Italian resto-bar special is its selection of salumi, Italian-style charcuterie, and cheeses – all made in Bali.
Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar – Italian Made in Bali
Eating Italian wouldn’t normally be a priority for us in Indonesia. But we made a beeline to Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar in Canggu, Bali, because it belonged to Aussie chef Geoff Lindsay (Dandelion, Crab Club) and its specialty, Italian salumi – salamis, cold cuts and air-dried meats – along with cheeses, are produced in Bali.
What appealed to us wasn’t the novelty of Italian products being made in Bali, but what we see as a necessity. One of the things that irks us with the food and beverage industry is the readiness for restaurants and hotels to import products from the other side of the world rather than do the hard work to source them locally. It’s not environmentally friendly and it’s not always necessary.
We lived in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi for many years, and we occasionally get to Singapore. We’ve eaten and written on both places so we appreciate their challenges and understand that it’s often impossible to source produce from within the region, let alone the country.
The UAE and Singapore have very little land suited for agriculture, although in Singapore an urban farming movement is, ahem, flourishing.
We also understand that some places just produce better products than others. Why would you eat oysters from Phuket if you can get them from Australia? They’re incomparable. When in Bangkok I won’t say no to an oyster omelette made with local oysters, but if I’m at a fine diner and a chef has some sublime Coffin Bay or Sydney Rock oysters on the menu… well, they’re pretty hard to resist.
But sometimes produce is flown halfway across the planet when there are perfectly good ingredients grown and raised locally. I won’t name names but I’ll never forget a certain Siem Reap five-star hotel that served us an unbelievably soft, practically mushy, chicken. When I asked the chef where on earth it was from he said that it had been flown in from the USA – in accordance with the regulations of the American branded hotel.
Every chicken I’ve ever eaten in Southeast Asia – from the fattest Thai chickens to the scrawniest ‘running chickens’, as they tend to call free range chooks in this part of the world – was more flavourful than that tasteless chicken that an F&B director in New York had deemed to be better.
So what’s this got to do with salumi and cheese? Sure, our preference is always going to be prosciutto from Parma, bresaola from Valtellina, mortadella from Bologna, and so on. But if a salumeria in Canggu is carving up slices of heaven that have been homegrown in Bali, then of course we’re going to opt for the local products.
And if Geoff Lindsay has anything to do with it – a man who serves up some of the most authentic and most delicious Vietnamese outside Vietnam at his restaurant Dandelion in Melbourne – then that’s a bonus.
Like us, Geoff skipped the Bali holidays when he was young and didn’t get there until his thirties, choosing instead to seek out a more satisfying foodie experience to go with the cultural and physical beauty of the island, and focusing his culinary travels on Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Malaysia instead.
The Lindsays established a home in Bali just three and a half years ago – Geoff commutes to Melbourne but his wife and young son live full-time in Canggu. I asked him what had changed to entice him back to Bali – and to move there.
“Bali has certainly developed from a food standpoint. Now it’s one of the truly great dining destinations,” Geoff revealed. “The unique culture of Canggu is a perfect fit for me. It reminds me of growing up in Warrnambool, a small seaside town at the end of the Great Ocean Road.”
Geoff said the biggest appeal was “the people, the relaxed atmosphere, the weather, and the surf.” He rides a long board. “Mainly at the aptly named break, Old Mans!” he added.
The Lindsays opened Salumeria Tanah Barak a Spuntini and Campari Bar six months ago because they felt there was something missing in Canggu’s restaurant scene – a smaller European-style bar, like an Italian bacaro or Spanish tapas bar – “the kind of which I love” he said, with “grown up cocktails, salty food, sophisticated décor”.
For Salumeria Tanah Barak, Geoff returned to his European culinary roots, having begun his cooking career in Italian and French restaurants (“classical stuff, a great base for a chef”). It wasn’t until he’d been cooking for quite a few years that, he said, he was seduced by the fragrance and flavours of South East Asian Cuisine, especially Vietnamese cuisine.
“Italian food is very life affirming,” Geoff mused, “And the romance of European culture of food and wine, socialising and communicating cannot be denied.”
“My customers are well travelled and the things we specialise in – Italian-style cocktails like the spritz and negroni, and the food, the salumi, cheeses, and tapas style dishes – are what we all talk about as the thing we miss in Bali,” Geoff explained. “And we’ve fortunately been able to dovetail into this some amazing local versions of classic Italian produce.”
The Salumeria’s light-filled space is gorgeous, reminding us of Italy (sigh), and the cocktails are superb – the spritz and the negroni were easily the best renditions of these favourites that we sipped on Bali – but the standouts really were the charcuterie and cheeses, surprisingly.
“The produce is getting better and better all the time,” Geoff said. “When we first opened I presumed all the Italian style produce I would need for the menu would have to be imported. But I have been blown away with the local salamis, culatello and prosciutto, the amazing goats cheeses, and European style cheeses. The local fresh mozzarella and burrata are unreal!”
Geoff said that they made a decision pretty quickly to specialise in the local products and make it a feature of the business.
“We get great cheeses from all over Bali and Java and most of our Italian style cured meets come from Bali,” Geoff revealed.
“There isn’t a centralised market or supplier for all these products so we have to deal direct, mostly, with producers,” Geoff explained. “Most generally sell at the local organic farmers’ markets, so it takes a while to establish a rapport. But we have made some great friends and are working on special products, just for us.”
“Our Italian cured meets, like culatello, proscuitto and salamis have been taken from larger more sophisticated operations,” Geoff clarified, “As this kind of curing requires a very clean, controlled environment to avoid unwanted moulds.”
Geoff purchases the meats whole, not vacuum-packed, and then ages them for longer than they would normally be released to market in order to reveal a more complex and richer flavour.
What was special about the products of Salumeria Tanah Barak, what was a highlight, I asked the chef.
“Obviously the product speaks for itself,” Geoff responded. “We wouldn’t serve them unless we knew that they would be well received by the customers. But what has blown me away is getting to meet the local Balinese people who have been mentored and trained by European artisans to produce these local versions of European small goods and cheeses.”
“I guess the highlights are getting to meet the makers!” Geoff said.
I asked Geoff what the best time to eat and drink at Salumeria Tanah Barak was, as we went during that awkward post-lunch period due, no thanks to Bali’s traffic.
“Aperitivo,” Geoff said. “Come for a spritz, a plate or two of salumi and formaggio, some white anchovies, and some Red Bella di Cerignola olives. Look out at the sunset over the rice paddies and absorb the best of Italy and Bali combined.”
Click through to read Geoff Lindsay’s Local Guide to Eating and Drinking in Canggu, Bali.
Salumeria Tanah Barak
47 Jalan Tanah Barak,
Canggu, Bali, Indonesia
(0361) 3003 463
Open from 4-11pm daily
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This post is part of a series from Indonesia, from Bali, Yogyakarta and Borobudur. Our trip was supported by Tourism Indonesia and Skyscanner, which provided flights, accommodation and some transport. Reflections, opinions and recommendations are obviously our own.